Vehicle Name Sorted Alphabetically Kelley Blue Book Sorted by Pricing
2005 Acura MDX

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best overall near-luxury SUV: Among fierce competition, the reliable MDX offers the most of the most. The Lexus RX 330 mostly goes toe-to-toe, but it has only five seats and lesser handling. The base MDX seats seven people without compromising cargo space, and the changes instituted in 2003 also make it better to drive. The Volvo XC90 costs far more for seven seats and all-wheel drive, and handles not as well. As for safety, the MDX's crash-test ratings are closer to Volvo's than you think."
$11,350 – $13,450

2005 Chevrolet Equinox

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best new SUV model: Chevrolet is very late to the compact-SUV party, having sold for years a version of the Suzuki Vitara under the Tracker name. Though it shares a platform with the Saturn Vue, the Equinox is larger (technically a midsize SUV), quieter, more refined and more comfortable. Though the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, our preferred source, hasn't yet crash-tested the Equinox, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has awarded it a quadruple-five-star rating. Even though reliability will be unknown for some time, the Equinox's good looks and solid execution mean it will give the best-selling Jeep Liberty and Ford Escape serious competition."
$6,900 – $7,700

2005 Ford Escape Hybrid

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best fuel economy: The Escape Hybrid holds the honor of being the first gasoline/electric hybrid SUV and the first hybrid to offer four-wheel drive. With an EPA-estimated fuel economy of 36 mpg in the city and 31 mpg in highway driving, it is claimed to have the power of a conventional Escape V-6 (20/25 mpg city/highway for the two-wheel-drive model) but with better efficiency than the conventional, two-wheel-drive four-cylinder model (24/29 mpg). In 2002 and 2003, the Escape has earned average to above-average reliability ratings.
Caveat: The current-generation, gasoline-only Escape earned a rating of Acceptable in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal crash test. While Acceptable, it is the lowest rating in the Small SUV class as of this writing, behind eight models rated Good and three others rated Acceptable."
$5,750 – $9,100

2005 Ford Explorer

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best overall midsize SUV (truck-based): Though the Chevrolet TrailBlazer and its Buick and GMC sister vehicles are tough competition — especially in terms of third-row legroom — their marginal crash-test ratings are a caution. The Explorer boasts very good crash-test ratings, especially among truck-based SUVs, and it now includes as standard equipment a stability system and rollover-avoidance technology designed by Volvo. The optional Safety Canopy provides protection in the event of an actual rollover. For buyers who demand a truck-based SUV, the Explorer is well-rounded and remains a best seller for good reasons. Below-average reliability is a blemish; see the Nissan Murano and Pathfinder and the Toyota 4Runner for reliable alternatives."
$6,425 – $9,850

2005 GMC Envoy XUV

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Most useful 'transformer' vehicle: Of the vehicles that combine SUV and pickup-truck traits, the Envoy XUV's concept has the most mass-market appeal. Why? Because it's a regular SUV in shape and application with a water-resistant cargo area that can be hosed down. The retractable roof panel over this area is, in my opinion, secondary. As is the case with competitors such as the Chevrolet Avalanche and Subaru Baja, the XUV's tricks come at a price premium.
Caveats: The GMC Envoy and its sister SUVs exhibit below-average reliability and score a Marginal rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As of this writing, there are 14 models that scored better with Good or Acceptable ratings."
$9,950 – $11,350

2005 Honda Pilot

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best overall midsize SUV (car-based): The Pilot accommodates eight people in comfort; that rivals or bests that of full-size SUVs while burning less gas. Throw in Honda's storied reliability, emissions performance and crash-test ratings and you have the best model for the way most people truly use their SUVs. If towing or off-roading is in your plans, a variety of truck-based models surpass the Pilot. If not, they're overkill."
$8,050 – $11,000

2005 Hummer H2

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "SUV you hate to love: The H2 is the SUV a lot of people love to hate — or just plain hate. And why not? It's gigantic, it's not commensurately accommodating inside, it sucks gas, and it's built to do something not nearly enough people will do to justify its purchase or even its manufacture. So why do I like it so much? How does it do that?! I hate to love it, but I do."
2005 Porsche Cayenne

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "The sportiest utility vehicle: Why Porsche made the Cayenne fully offroad capable (a claim I haven't tested) is a mystery. The added weight means it's not as quick as it could be. Still, the Cayenne Turbo — the model with a 450-horsepower twin-turbocharged V-8 — overcomes the heft. It's the sportiest SUV out there, and very much a Porsche. Considering that the Infiniti FX45 is quicker, the Cayenne S doesn't deserve the same praise even if it does bear the badge. As for the new version powered by a Volkswagen V-6 . . . don't get me started."
$12,500 – $18,100

2005 Subaru Forester

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best overall compact SUV: Balance helps the wagonlike Forester capture the overall crown. Stellar performance in front and side crash tests puts it above the Honda CR-V, and reliability and refinement outshine the Ford Escape. A turbocharged engine puts the 2.5 XT trim level above pretty much everything else in terms of driving enjoyment, though more modest powertrains preserve admirable fuel economy. For optimal sporty performance, choose the 2.5 XT — but forget the optional automatic transmission and upgrade the tires."
$8,025 – $11,400

2005 Volvo XC90

Joe Wiesenfelder says: "Best safety equipment: The XC90's so-so driving characteristics, below-average reliability and high price rule it out of the best-overall contest, but it deserves the nod for safety equipment. It's difficult to quantify the real-world safety of one model with good crash-test scores compared to another with good crash-test scores. But when it comes to the effort — the emphasis on safe engineering and safety features — the XC90 is unmatched. It was the first vehicle with side curtain-type airbags for all three rows of seats and the first with a rollover-avoidance system, now shared with some Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models. Where most vehicles have front seat belt pretensioners, the XC90 has them for each seat. No matter your criterion, it's a safe bet."
$9,100 – $10,250